- Terms launch of the Naya Pakistan National Health Card a landmark step
Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Tuesday that the government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was committed to mitigating the deprivation of the people of south Punjab by ensuring their just share in the development budget and employment opportunities.
Addressing the launch ceremony of the Naya Pakistan National Health Card in the Bahawalpur division, he said the people of south Punjab would be given their right of access to education, healthcare and development in accordance with the percentage of the population.
Khan, who was flanked by Chief Minister Usman Buzdar and Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmeen Rashid, launched the programme by distributing health cards among the locals of the Bahawalpur division.
The programme has already been launched for the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), Punjab, Islamabad, district Tharparkar, Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
The National Health Card, which offers Rs1 million medical coverage per household annually, will benefit around 10.5 million people belonging to the districts of Rahimyar Khan, Bahawalpur and Bahawalnagar, say officials.
The premier termed the launch of the health coverage facility as a “landmark step” to accommodate the people bearing the burden of expensive medical treatment.
He said universal health coverage was available in a few countries across the world, where the government fully covered the medical expenses.
In Pakistan, he said, the philosophy behind the health card was in line with the goals of the state of Madina. "It would prove a phenomenal step in the improvement of healthcare services," he said.
Khan said the health card was a defining moment when it comes to encouraging the private sector to join the medical network especially in rural areas of the country and creating an environment to compete for the public sector hospitals to improve their services.
He said a massive amount of over Rs 400 billion would be spent on health insurance programmes to meet the demands of the growing population.
"The programme would address the problems including the unavailability of doctors and paramedic staff at hospitals, especially in rural areas," he said.
The prime minister announced that he would soon visit Bahawalpur to outline the further administrative steps regarding the establishment of the South Punjab Civil Secretariat in the city.
Khan said the government was taking steps to improve economic stability. "The Economist magazine and Bloomberg ranked Pakistan among the top three countries that had effectively sustained economically during the pandemic," he said.
He dismissed the criticism of media that called the government “inefficient,” saying that the economic growth of 5.37 despite the pandemic situation cannot be termed as inefficient.
The prime minister said the government was committed to holding the corrupt to account and recovering the nation’s looted money.
Meanwhile, addressing the ceremony, Buzdar said the launch of health card in the Bahawalpur division will raise the number of people and households in the national health programme in Punjab by 65 per cent.
He said over 100 hospitals had been added to the official panel in three districts where the patients would be able to avail medical treatment from the public and private hospitals.
By March, he said, the programme would be expanded to 36 districts of Punjab benefiting around 110 million, adding that the Punjab government was contributing billions for the health coverage, especially for cancer patients.